Thursday, December 19, 2013

The War on Drugs is stupid

But you can see where the instinct to try to stop drug abuse comes from.  Al Fin has an emotionless, unsentimental, and unflinching view of what these drugs do to the people who use them.  It's not an easy read - psychologically speaking - but you'll end up smarter when you're done.

But it's Al Fin, so of course you'll end up smarter.  I still don't think that the benefits outweigh the costs of the War On Drugs, but this is important reading for libertarian types.  This about sums it up:
Drug legalisation would solve some of the wider problems caused by the violent addiction industry by removing most of the criminal profits involved, and thus much of the violence. Large problems would remain after legalisation, of course, just as the US still has a lot of problems from alcohol abuse long after the repeal of prohibition. But we should not expect perfection or utopia from our policy choices, only a form of dynamic and realistic optimisation.
You pay your money and make your choice.  And then you live with what that choice entails.  RTWT.


Divemedic said...

No one knows more about the fate of drug abusers than the nation's EMS workers. We see it every day.

However, to claim that the war on drugs is preventing people from getting drugs is laughable. Nearly every person in the US is less than a 5 minute drive from someone who could sell them any drug they want.

The first drug laws were put in place as taxes in the early 1920s to appease China, who demanded restrictions on Heroin, and was a valuable trade partner at the time.

At the time, it was believed that the government did not have the authority to regulate drugs (just as with alcohol), so the government tried to tax them out of existence.

Drug laws remain a failure. In the early 1920s, 1 in 304 people in the US was addicted to drugs. The rate of addiction of all illicit drugs today is much higher. One in 13 people has used an illicit drug in the past month, 1 in 70 if marijuana is not counted. One in 125 Americans has used cocaine in the past month.

The war on drugs is a failure, and a decades long folly that has cost the American public trillions of dollars, and countless lost liberties.

Old NFO said...

Yep, the mental and physical impact is ALWAYS downplayed...

Glen Filthie said...

This is why I can't stand libertarians. The war on drugs is an effort to keep our kids out of harm's way - not an attempt to deprive stupid people of their rights and freedoms.

The fact that you can't legally do drugs does does not infringe on my rights one iota. Further, people that take the more dangerous drugs endanger those around them as well. You would think that a libertarian would be able to see that.

Jester said...

Well, here is the issue Glen Filthie, we already have the war on drugs to keep them away from society. That is the point that seems to be missed. Its already prohibited, how many people are not being saved already? We already have people gladly selling illegal and stolen prescriptions to kids, hell its the kids themselves doing it. The war on drugs is arguably not keeping kids out of harms way.

People are already endangered by things illegal or not, see the argument that is taken on firearms for example. Oh you should not have this because it could be used to harm someone. Insert nearly any other thing that is claimed to be done for the "Common good."

Prohibition was tried on alcohol and what we saw was the same thing that happened with the war on drugs. (I would even point out that the bans on automatic weapons and many of the starting of firearms prohibitions spawned out of the alcohol prohibition, before that we did not see large use of gang violence and the arms race it spawned but I digress...)

I don't care what someone does until I have to pay for it or my children are endangered by it. That's something that I'll state I'm not looking to see total repeal of all drug regulation. But I would wager that we could save millions by legalizing drugs, having some form of quality control similar to the pharmaceutical industry. (At least for the stuff that you don't grow like marijuana.)

The problem though that I see with those ideas to continue the discussion is black market goods will nearly always be cheaper than main market goods due to the removal of the costs of regulation and compliance.

Again I don't want my kids involved with drugs, but I don't also feel that the war on drugs is effective, it is obvious it is not working. I in actuality don't see that or legalization or the discussion of what to institute in place of that a libertarian issue. I see it as non political issue that needs to have a honest discourse with out going in to dramatics, remain with the facts.

Chris said...

I mostly agree with Jester, except that I *do* want the total legalization of all drugs, as well as other consensual acts (prostitution, for example). This would not, as I guess Glen Filthie would assert, mean that I approve of drug users endangering others by DUI, running amok, etc. However, we already have laws in place for such actions, so the only thing that would change is that drug users need not go to great lengths to hide what they are doing, which often now creates the danger to others that he fears.

Portugal largely legalized drugs about a decade ago, and after the expected rough beginning, things seem to be much better. Admittedly, this opinion is based on the kind of surveys that are routinely derided for poor methodology, but medical and (violent) criminal statistics are reportedly lower.

The largest benefit would be taking the obscene profits out of the current drug trade, which corrupts most inner cities and their government and police. It would also sharply reduce the War on the Bill of Rights that has gutted several amendments to fight the drug trade (although it seems the authorities have covered their bets on the possibility of legalization by ramping up the War on Terror to erode our rights even more).

And just so people like Glen know, the most potent drugs I have ever consumed are triple-hopped IPAs and Swiss chocolate. However, to further muddy the waters, I will predict that if Obamacare succeeds in shambling on, health-negative products like those will soon be regulated for my own good.

Goober said...

The same things were said about prohibition Glen, and yet once it was repealed, alcohol related problems plummeted. The violence and lawlessness caused by prohibition wasn't worth the supposed benefits to ban booze.

I'd note that all the damaging things junkies do are already illegal, meaning we have a way to deal with them that is decoupled from their use of drugs. Dui is already illegal. Theft is already illegal. Assault? Already illegal.

Decriminalizing eliminates one of the biggest drivers towards junkie criminal activity, and virtually eliminates cartel violence and the price controls makkng them rich.

Why wouldn't you want that?

SiGraybeard said...

If the war on some drugs was being even marginally effective, drugs would be getting more expensive and harder to find. It seems the opposite is the case. Ergo, it's not just destroying the constitution and our liberties, it's a failure.

Like Divemedic said, it appears that anyone can get anything they want any time they want. They can get drugs in prison, for cryin' out loud. You don't get a much more restrictive environment than that, yet the WO(s)D doesn't even work there!

It's almost proverb to say, "insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results". What we're doing isn't having the desired effect. In the slightest. It's time to try something else.

I don't know that "something else" is full legalization and let every adult do whatever they want, and be responsible for the consequences, but I don't know it's not that. There's one important step everyone needs to acknowledge before that happens, though. We need to be able to toss the ones who have hurt themselves and demand that we be responsible for fixing what they did to themselves.

Borepatch said...

Graybeard, YES!

Drugs are not getting cheaper, and they're not getting harder to find.

Glen Filthie said...

Says who, BP? Don't bother quoting me stats because I can show you any number of 'studies' put out by stupid people that would PROVE crime would disappear with a gun ban too.

I will admit the war on drugs is failing for the same reason you can't get reliable stats on the problem - it's politicized out the wazoo, there is a ton of money involved, and because half the adult population in North America are uneducable f-tards...they wouldn't do the right thing even if they had accurate info and stats! So it is that libertarians, of all people - are defending addictions that enslave people - as rights and feedoms! The mind wobbles. They wrap themselves up in the flag while doing it. Spare me the sanctimony, I will pass on the koolaid.

My personal take on this problem is that we have too much time and too much money as a society. Back in the Dirty 30's decent people had their hands full just trying to pay the bills and put food on the table. Simple common sense should prevail - haven't we all got better things to do with our money?